Accenture released survey results today showing the growing investment in customer experience is paying off. 1,550 executives (nearly a quarter of them CEOs) in 21 countries across 22 industries were surveyed. The findings: companies who focus on delivering exceptional experiences for their customers, employees and society outperform their industry peers by six times in year-on-year profitability.
While attention to customer experience is not new, Business of Experience has taken on an urgent imperative today because of three major challenges besetting customer experience as we know it:
- Customer demands: Many organizations seem to be out of sync, too rigid or moving at a pace that is slower than consumer change.
- Sea of sameness: Simple, fast, clear and intuitive experiences have become a given for customers, meaning they’re easy to copy and aren’t differentiated enough to automatically gain you market share.
- Flight to purpose: Brands are facing intense pressure to stand for something bigger than the products and services they sell. Today, eight in 10 consumers say purpose is at least as important to them as CX. More than half of Gen Y and Z consumers, compared to 37% of other consumers, say they have shifted a portion of their spend away from their current service provider when a company disappointed them due to its words or actions on a social issue.
According to the research, companies that focus their entire organization around delivering exceptional experiences for their customers, employees and society outperform their industry peers by six times in year-on-year profitability.
“COVID-19 has pushed experience further into the spotlight, accelerating its significance through every function and employee,” said Brian Whipple, group chief executive of Accenture Interactive. “Simply put, when you improve the experience, you improve lives and in turn, you improve business.”
Rapidly Evolving Customer Demands Driving Urgency for New Approach
While a focus on customer experience (CX) has traditionally been based on transactions with customers, being experience-led is a new way of working that is increasingly being backed by the C-suite, according to the research. Accenture Interactive calls this new holistic approach – which is becoming an urgent business imperative – the Business of Experience (BX).
The report notes that while CX has historically been part of the domain of the chief marketing officer (CMO), BX has become a CEO priority as it ties back to every aspect of a company’s operations. And it’s not just the CEO: more than half of chief operating officers (COO) (56%), chief strategy officers (CSO) (53%) and chief financial officers (CFO) (51%) said their company will fundamentally change the way it engages and interacts with its customers.
“All leaders are going to need to change their approach to experience and the quantifiable business impacts in the year ahead, as so much about our world has been altered – how we shop, how and where we work, and how we interact with others,” said Gregor Barry, managing director and Accenture Interactive lead in Canada. “We see an experience renaissance happening before us. Companies that live and breathe experience will be poised for growth.”
Becoming a Business of Experience
The research shows that leading companies (i.e., companies that are independently performing well in terms of financial growth and business cycle endurance) think about and act on the customer experience differently than their competitors. These leading companies are far more likely to take the following BX approaches, enabling them to consistently outperform their peers.
- Become customer-obsessed. Customer needs will likely continue to evolve, often unpredictably, beyond the fallout from the pandemic. As a result, companies should invest in ways to uncover customers’ unmet needs, both big and small. The research found that leading companies are twice as likely as others (55% vs. 26%) to say they have the ability to translate customer data into actions. But many of these same leaders say that there are limits to their data and what they can do as a result. That’s why it matters — to be truly customer obsessed, companies need better ways to dig deep and uncover these needs.
- Make experience innovation an everyday habit.Our research shows that leading companies feel better prepared to take advantage of the opportunity to innovate at scale as they are more than twice as likely to have the agility to pivot towards new models that deliver value and relevance to their customers versus their peers.
- Expand the experience remit across their organization. Experience is not the responsibility of just the CMO or COO — it’s everybody’s business, from the C-suite down. Every person and every part of the business should be interconnected and collaborative, functioning as one cohesive, customer-obsessed unit, with delivering the best customer experience as its north star.
- Sync the tech, data and human agenda.Becoming a business of experience is not about investing more but investing differently. Leaders redirect data, tech and people to enable agility that continuously unlocks efficiencies that can be reinvested in new opportunities for performance and growth. Among leaders, 61% said their company has a clear view of which technology platforms they need to leverage to remain competitive and relevant to customers, compared with only 27% of their peers.
The full report, called The Business of Experience, is available here